The 50 Movies Project is a personal “marathon” of mine. In June, I compiled a list of 50 movies that I felt I needed to see by the end of the year. Old, new, foreign, English — it doesn’t matter. These are all movies that I have heard a lot about and have been wanting to see for some time. This project gives me a way to stay focused on the goal.
The Magnificent Seven 
Directors: John Sturges
Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai represented many “firsts” for me. It was my first Japanese classic film. My first Kurosawa film. My first three hour epic. The first movie I watched that had an extended intermission halfway through. Seven Samurai turned me onto a whole new world of film, and for that I am very appreciative.
The Magnificent Seven is Hollywood’s westernization of Kurosawa’s masterpiece, and it is one of a seemingly rare breed in that is also highly regarded, though not quite up to the level of its inspiration. Opting to go the Western route, the movie is about seven American gunmen who are hired to protect a small Mexican village from evil bandits. There is plenty of action with several entertaining gunfights, but there is also a good amount of emphasis on character relationships that give the men some depth.
The seven gunmen are played by a veritable who’s who of badasses from the time period — Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn and Horst Buchholz. Brynner is the leader of the group as Chris Adams, the hired mercenary who rounds up the rest of the fellas to fight off the bandits. This was the first movie I had seen Brynner in, and I was very impressed. As Adams, he played a tough, commanding leader who didn’t take shit from anyone. His stage presence is undeniable. Of the rest, McQueen, Bronson and Coburn are most noteworthy. McQueen’s laidback persona oozes with confidence. Bronson shows a gentle side after becoming “adopted” by two Mexican children. Coburn is a quiet, expert knife-thrower who just so happens to be handy with a gun. The leader of the bandits, Calvera, is played by Eli Wallach in an excellent performance. His character felt like a precursor of sorts to what he would eventually take on in The Good, The Bad & The Ugly.
This is a stellar cast, no doubt, and everyone gets their share of screen time. The characters are likable, the action is solid, and the score is unforgettable; the opening theme was later used in Marlboro TV commercials.
I am still fairly new when it comes to Westerns, but there’s no denying the value of The Magnificent Seven. Despite some slow goings at times, I found the movie to be very entertaining overall, mostly due to the cast’s star power. A cut below Seven Samurai, but a worthwhile remake all the same.